I’ll take Phoning It In for 500, Alex.
We’ve been spoiled by Pixar into thinking that animated films aren’t just for kids anymore but Adam Sandler wants to remind you that, indeed, some of them are.
Hotel Transylvania 2 isn’t offensive, it’s just a throwback to that old style animation where a cartoon is just a babysitter for the kiddos. It’s full of monsters so colourful and appealing they could advertise sugary breakfast cereal. The movie relies on sight gags and corny jokes that just don’t cut it for the over-10 crowd.
Dracula is back, the proprietor of a high-end hotel catering exclusively to monster guests. His daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) has just married her human sweetheart Jonathan (Adam Samberg) and they’ve got a sweet little baby boy, the apple of Dracula’s eye. The only thing is, nobody knows yet whether the baby will turn out to be vampire or human. There’s a slight allegory here, something about “mixed families” but it’s not exactly groundbreaking stuff.
Sandler brings along all his old buddies to flesh-out the awesome voice cast: SNL alums, Chris Parnell, David Spade, Molly Shannon, Dana Carvey, Chris Kattan, and Jon Lovitz; Sandler mainstays Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Nick Swardson, and Allen Covert; and a rather inspired addition – Mel Brooks as Vlad, grumpy great-grandpa who doesn’t approve of vampire-human relations. My favourite of course, are Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly, who together voice Jonathan’s super-square parents who get thrown into a crash-course in monsterdom when their son introduces them to vampiric in-laws and a “half-blood” grandson.
Offerman and Mullaly are a real-life couple who met while doing a play. He was a lowly carpenter, and she was a TV star still in the throes of her Will & Grace fame. Over the course of their relationship, she’s seen his star rise as well due to a similarly iconic role on Parks & Recreation. We Assholes were lucky enough to catch them doing another play together, this time on Broadway, called Annapurna. It was a simple, 2-person play, deeply intense and emotional, and a real joy to watch two master thespians up close and personal. It’s clear that they love working together, even if it’s on a shitty kids’ movie.
Well, I’m saying shitty because I was bored by it. But the producers of Hotel Transylvania don’t care what I think. They didn’t make it for me. And if you ask a kid, chances are they loved it. The sequel was a veritable monster at the box office, if you’ll forgive the pun, setting records as the biggest September opening, the biggest Sandler opening, and the biggest for Sony Pictures Animation as well. It grossed $469 million worldwide, and it just beat out Inside Out at the Kids’ Choice Awards this weekend. So hell yes there’s a #3 coming down the pipes.
Bottom line: if you run out of Paw Patrol, this movie will make a nice substitute for your single-digit-aged kids. If you hope for more than just fart jokes in your animated movies, maybe Zootopia is your better choice – though I’m not guaranteeing it’s fart-free….in fact, I distinctly remember a certain “play on words” if you can still call it that when the word in question is duty.